PANGKOR LAUT RESORT
30 Mar-1 Apr 2015
Several years ago while taking a boat ride off Pangkor Island, we passed by the exclusive Pangkor Laut Resort. “It would be great if we could come here,” I said to Nik. He need not reply. It’s was not within our means. I could only dream
Less than two weeks ago I blurted out to some friends, “I feel like going to Birmingham…..just to chill out and relax at my son’s place.” “Let’s go to Pangkor Laut (Resort),” said JB. “I need to relax and unwind, too.” JB’s daughter and recently her son had spent their honeymoon at the island resort. They came home with good reviews.
Pangkor Laut Resort is located on a privately owned island of Pangkor Laut, 1.6 km off the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. There is no other resort on the island. Only a fraction of the island’s 300 acres is developed to house the Resort and its eight Estates.
The drive from our home in Kepala Batas, Penang to the Marina Island Jetty took less then 2.5 hours. Going south along the highway, we exited at Changkat Jering and travel along route 60 going pass Terong, Pantai Remis, Segari and then to Manjung. Upon arrival at Marina Island Jetty around 11.15 am, we report at the Pangkor Laut Resort office. This office cum waiting area serves drinks and snacks. Our boat scheduled at 1 pm left the jetty around 12.35 pm. There were 14 guests on the boat. Less than 15 minutes later we got off at the Resort’s jetty.
We were led to the library where an assigned staff, Ms Goh, gave our group of four (my son-Hanif, JB, Zaba and myself) a short briefing about the Resort’s facilities. We chose the Resident’s Package which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. The best price (meaning the cheapest) for this package is a 3D2N stay at the Garden Villa. I had problems making an online reservation and a last minute call to the company’s Travel Centre turned out to be a good decision.
After the briefing, Ms Goh then escorted us to the Royal Bay Beach Club Restaurant for lunch. For our package, each person gets to choose a main dish and an appetizer or dessert, plus coffee and tea.
By the time lunch was over, it was nearly 3 pm. Ms Goh came and showed us the way to our villa. The entire resort has Balinese influence, from the architecture of it’s timber villas, the interior design and landscaping. Our room was spacious with the wardrobe and dressing area along the centre and the lavatory and bathroom on one side and the bed and the veranda on the other. Our villa was just behind the library. This is probably the most beautiful resort I have been to. The pretty gardens and the lush surroundings are well-kept. I can no longer recall the details of the Datai in Langkawi that we visited in the early 1990’s. The Datai was then one of the best hotels in the country. Our Garden Villa photographed from the front and an aerial view.
Here is a glimpse of the interior of our room….
In the early evening we went to Emerald Bay, a beach area on the other side of the island facing the open sea. Four-wheel vehicles and vans are provided for guests to move around the hilly resort. The sea at Emerald Bay has the colour of emerald and the beach has very fine sand. It was a cloudy evening, so we did not wait for the sunset.
The next morning as soon we arrived at Emerald Bay, Hanif went to collect the snorkelling gear and headed for the water. JB and myself wanted to go in, but we waited for Hanif to report. There was not much to view in the water. There were too few fish and no corals. What a disappointment and no wonder the snorkelling gears were complimentary. So, we spent the whole morning at the bay strolling along the beach and taking turns to nap on the rainbow-coloured hammock. It was great not having to worry about chores like taking out the laundry, cleaning or cooking. It was a chance to shut my eyes, clear my mind and simply absorb in the quiet tranquillity of the place. I could tell my two friends did so, too. By mid-morning more people came. Though it was a small beach, it was not crowded.
The Feast Restaurant is just beside the reception area. It’s a spacious and airy area serving breakfast and dinner. One side of the restaurant opens to beach with a view of the jetty and on the other side is the courtyard. The buffet breakfast has a good spread of freshly squeezed juices, fresh fruits and salads, local dishes such as nasi lemak, porridge, roti canai and capati as well as the egg station and breads. Guests are spoilt for choice here.
Dinner at the Feast Restaurant was ala carte. Local favourites and the usual western dishes were on the menu. For her appetizer Zaba ordered Lobster Salad. It was a generous serving of two medium-sized lobsters. I opted for Grilled Sea Bass and dessert. My two older friends, who are senior citizens took their time choosing dishes from the menu and were in no hurry to finish their meals. What better way to pass the time since we have nothing much to do. We were here to take things easy. However, I’d rather spend my time stretching out on the cosy bed than sit at the restaurant pretending to enjoy a rather bland piece of fish. For dessert, I chose tiramisu which was passed around since it’s the only dessert we have. The others already had their appetizers.
We had both our lunches at the Royal Bay Beach Club Restaurant. This restaurant is situated beside the lap pool overlooking the sea. The menu offers a decent selection of sandwiches, pastas, noodles and vegetarian dishes. Being a small eater and a dessert lover, I often opt for cold or sweet desserts. The dessert selection was limited but, good enough to satisfy my craving for something smooth and scrumptious. We had no idea what Fruit Sushi is when one of us ordered it. It turned out to be a serving of sushi topped with fresh fruit slices. During our second lunch, JB ordered some spring rolls which was crisps vegetables wrapped in soft rice paper with a chilli sauce dip.
Uncle Lim’s Kitchen serves Chinese food. We had a wonderful dinner on our first evening. With five main dishes and a dessert each, we had more than our ideal calorie intake. We ordered two prawn dishes, vegetables and scallops cooked in oyster sauce, Calamansi chicken and grilled fish fillet. The prawns were large ones and well-cooked yet succulent. This restaurant is a good place to eat. For dinner, guests need to make reservations early during the day.
Although meals are inclusive of our package, I need to sign the bill after lunch and dinner. It was at Uncle Lim’s that I noticed “Tips” at the bottom of the bill. I often travel with Nik and he takes care of the tippings. I know I ought to tip the waiters, but it had slipped my mind. I did not bring my purse either. So, I called out to JB for some money.
In between the Reception area and the Royal Bay Beach Club Restaurant are the Beach Villas. These villas face the seafront and are only metres away from the beach. I am not sure if guests are allowed to sunbathe and swim here because the Water Sport Activity counter is just nearby.
The Sea Villas are further along at the end of the beach. These villas are built on stilts in the sea. The gentle lapping sound of the waves would be a good lullaby for weary guests arriving from afar. A wooden walkway connects these villas. No motorised vehicle is allowed on the walkway. So, guests need to walk a good distance to the pick-up point. The water was quite clear here and we could see a variety of fishes, corals, a jelly fish and a monitor lizard. The jetty was another good place to view the fishes. There is no need to waste one’s time going snorkelling at Emerald Bay.
There is an elevator near our villa that takes guests to a higher level to the Hill Villas. Behind these villas is the forest while the front view is that of the resort, jetty and the sea. It is a great view, but guests must be prepared to climb stairs and it is certainly not practical for persons with weak knees. During an early evening walk near the Hill Villas, we snapped some photos…..
As soon as we arrived at the resort, I heard the Hornbills before I could see them. A few of them came down to perch on the frangipani tree at the Royal Bay Beach Club Restaurant while we were having our lunch. They were pretty tame, allowing me to take close up photographs. Hornbills are wild birds of the jungle. This wasn’t my first time seeing Hornbills, but it was my first close encounter with the big-beaked birds. I did wonder about their friendliness and found out the next day. Underneath the frangipani tree is where the waiters and waitresses stack the used plates. So, the Hornbills perch on the tree waiting to snatch away the leftovers.
In the early evening, while having a cup of hot drink and some crackers on the verandah, a pair of Hornbills flew to a palm tree nearby. I stood up to snap some photos and tried to lure the birds with cracker crumbs on my outstretched palms. One of them came to eat out of my palm, followed by the other one. They also ate from Hanif’s palm. Then, one of the birds flew onto the table picking up a whole piece of cracker with its beak. Earlier on, a resort staff told us that guests are not encourage to feed the birds. However, I guess over the years these birds have adapted themselves with our presence, the Homo sapiens and our foods. I love the way the birds cocked their heads when I talked to them.
Come Wednesday, it’s time to check out and make our way home. Throughout our stay, the resort’s polite and courteous staff provided nothing less than a superb service. The waiters and waitresses helped us to choose our meals. The housekeeping staff never intrude upon our privacy, coming to do their job only when the villa was unoccupied. They made sure we need not carry our bags. And when it was time to leave, they accompanied us to our boat and bade us goodbye.
Though only a short one, it had been a relaxing break and we could not have chosen a better place for a retreat. It was something I had always wanted to do-go to a nice resort just to eat, sleep and unwind. No hopping onto open-top tour buses, no scouring for halal food (something we do when abroad) and no shopping. I hope to return to Pangkor Laut Resort with Nik. Another dream? I am happy to dream on.